Lets get started by opening a new document. For the sake of being on the same page just make sure you’re working at 72ppi so my filter settings will work the same for you later in the lesson.
Lets leave the background layer white for now and add 2 new layers by hitting the New Layer icon at the bottom of the Layers palette. Name these layers Shape and Halftone respectively because I’ll be referring to the layers by names as we work.
(*note: If your layers palette isn’t visible, you can open it by choosing Window>Layers from the main menu.)
With the Shape layer selected lets draw an object on the stage. For my example I’m going to use the star I use in the PSHERO logo. I’ve made the star into a Custom Shape which I can now retrieve anytime I need to use it by choosing the Custom Shape tool from the tools bar and then selecting the star from the Custom Shape gallery as shown below. Be sure that the Fill Pixels icon is checked.
Now I’m going to choose a nice red as my foreground color (#6b120c) and click and drag my shape onto the stage. Remember that by holding down the Shift key you can constrain your shape.
Here’s a neat little trick if you ever want to center something to either to whole stage or to the center of any selection:
Press Command-A (PC: Ctrl-A) to select the entire canvas. Now switch to the Move tool by pressing V. When you switch to the move tool, you will notice a new set of options appear at the top of Photoshop, a few of which are the Align commands. If you press Align Horizontal Centers and Align Vertical Centers icons, your shape will be moved to the exact center of the selection. If you didn’t already know that little trick, I bet you’re doing your happy dance about now… or maybe that’s just me.
Ok, enough monkey business, lets get to the meat of our tutorial.
Holding down the Command (PC: Ctrl) key, click on the icon in the Shape layer in the Layers palette to load the shape as a selection. From the main menu choose Select>Modify>Expand and when the dialog box pops up enter 10 pixels and press OK. Now feather the selection by choosing Select>Modify>Feather from the main menu. Use a setting of 15 pixels and click OK. (*note: In Photoshop CS2 the Feather option is in the main drop down under the Select header in the main menu. In CS3 it was moved to the Select>Modify sub-menu.)
With the selection made, expanded and feathered it’s time to enter Quick Mask Mode by simply pressing the Q key on your keyboard. You’ll notice that everything outside our selection turns pink (because it’s masked) and that because we feathered the selection, the pink mask gradually dissipates as it enters the selection.
From the main menu choose Filter>Pixilate>Color Halftone and set the Max Radius to 8 pixels and leave the other settings at their default (the default should be 108/162/90/45) and click OK. Now the area where we had our gradient before has been converted to a series of expanding dots (halftone).
Exit Quick Mask Mode by pressing the Q key again and instantly the area that was transparent during our masking process is converted into a selection. How awesome is that?
In the Layers palette click on the Halftone layer to select it. Press the D key on your keyboard to reset the foreground color to black and then fill the selection by pressing Option-Delete (PC: Alt-Backspace)
Press Command-D (PC: Ctrl-D) to deselect. I’m also going to lower the Fill opacity of the Halftone layer to around 30% so the contrast is less harsh.
Ok, now that you’ve got the technique down, lets try some other things. Below I’ve opened a photograph, duplicated the background layer which contained the photo and then filled the original background with white.
Using the Rectangular Marquee tool (keyboard shortcut M) I drug out a nice rectangular selection. (*note: For this example I’m not going to be expanding or feathering the selection.)
Now press Q to enter Quick Mask Mode, apply the exact same Color Halftone effect as before (*note: You can press Command-F (PC: Ctrl-F) to quickly apply the last filter you used.), then simply press Q again to exit Quick Mask Mode.
Now instead of filling the selection with color, lets press the Create Layer Mask icon at the bottom of the Layers palette to convert the selection to a Layer Mask.
Add a little Drop Shadow and an Inner Glow with some creative settings…
And you have a creative little edge effect.
Try it around text! In this example I used the expand and feather technique from the first exercise.
And for my final example I created a Quick Mask with a Reflected Gradient from the center out, then used the Free Transform with Warp turned on in order to bend the halftone into the shape you see in the final image.
(*note: Because of the broad nature of this tutorial I haven’t included a file for download.)
Lesson Files + Additional Resources
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